Updated: Jan 15
Gouache paint consists of ground powdered pigments suspended in a water-soluble binder; it’s the opaque version of watercolour paint. The opacity in gouache is achieved by adding chalk or white pigment. Water is used during application and when it evaporates, the binder fixes the pigments to any surface suitable for watercolour. Gouache has a very matte finish and the appearance of tempera.
Artist quality gouache, which has a higher pigment to binder ratio, is re-wettable and reworkable like watercolour. Gouache dries much faster than watercolour; however, the lighter hues dry darker and the darker hues dry lighter. That wet-to-dry colour shift may pose a challenge when it comes to colour matching. Gouache shows characteristics of both acrylics and watercolour because it has good coverage and at the same time can be used to depict minute details. For those reasons, it’s preferred by commercial artist and illustrators for posters, illustrations, and comics.
Acrylic gouache, which has all the qualities of traditional gouache, uses acrylic as a binder. That means it is water-resistant once dry and there is no bleeding or lifting when rewetted or layered.